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Use personality tests as tool, not stand-in, for hiring process

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Hiring,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers

Issue: When can (and should) you use personality testing to screen applicants?

Benefit: More tests are available online, which makes them easier and cheaper to administer.

Action: Weigh the pros and cons of personality tests, but beware of legal pitfalls and relying too heavily on their results.

When fishing for the best and the brightest in the applicant pool, using computerized personality tests can improve hiring quality and reduce turnover.

More than 2,000 different tests measure applicants' characteristics, such as teamwork, leadership, integrity, honesty, creativity and extroversion. More tests are becoming available online to administer online or on paper.

Advantages: You can select tests for specific positions, generate key follow-up questions for interviews and quickly rank applicants. Save time by screening out people who clearly perform poorly. Personality tests are more accurate than ever.

Example: After Neiman Marcus began testing to select the most aggressive salespeople, sales increased 15 percent, turnover dropped 18 percent and the time devoted to making hiring decisions declined.

Possible pitfalls: Some employers lean too heavily on tests and use them as a substitute for interviews and reference checks.

To be legal, tests must:

1. Be validated. Research must show that the test measures what it claims to measure.

2. Compare results to job requirements. The qualities measured must be relevant to the job. For example, "extroversion" is relevant to sales, but not cutting sheet metal.

3. Measure all applicants by the same standard. After deciding that sales applicants should be extroverts, all applicants must be examined by that standard.

Online resources: top tests

Among the leaders in online tests: 

  •, which offers tests such as the multifactor leadership questionnaire. Prices start at $10 per test. 
  • measures traits that make good salespeople. Cost: A few dollars to $25 per test, depending on volume. 

Check out more testing sources at, www.aptitudetest. com, and

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